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The future of cancer care

How to personalise care to deliver better patient outcomes

By Matt Bolton

Despite significant steps being taken to improve patients’ survival chances, cancer remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

This article looks at the journey from established treatment approaches to the modern era of genomics, biomarkers, targeted therapies and personalised medicine. How did we get to this point, what’s next on the horizon and what are the specific challenges for industry in this dynamic and ever evolving therapeutic area?

The future of cancer treatment

Over recent years, significant advancements have been made in cancer treatments, particularly the rise of more targeted immunotherapeutic treatments.

Monoclonal antibodies, checkpoint inhibitors and oncolytic virus therapies have all been shown to provide significant improvements in survival over established standards of care across a range of tumour types.

The most significant advancements are the result of genomics, providing us with better understanding of the disease and leading to personalised medicine based on an individual’s genetic, molecular and immune profile.

Translating genomic breakthroughs into direct benefit to patients requires significant changes to the wider approach to cancer treatment. New systems and arrangements for care are required in order to provide truly personalised care. Modern diagnostics are required in order to most appropriately treat patients on an individual level. Analytics and information sharing is required, across multiple stakeholders.

At Clear, we believe that it is vital to understand the individual differences across a wide range of patient needs and a wide range of different tumour types, and deliver against these, in order to truly provide personalised patient care.

A patient’s perspective of cancer care

Patients are often an under-represented stakeholder when defining approaches to cancer care. In Clear’s study, The Patient Gap, we investigated the lack of involvement of patients in the development and design of their healthcare and found that only 6% of patients strongly agree that pharma companies are on their side however 50% wished pharma knew more about their lives. This highlights a huge, untapped opportunity to better involve patients in their care.

To truly understand the patient’s perspective, we need to be open to understanding their needs and drivers for value in cancer care, then set up to deliver against this across all stages of their journey. To do this, we need to put the patient at the centre throughout the development of a new treatment, from clinical trial setup to post-approval support.

Treating cancer patients: a multi-stakeholder approach

The multitude of new treatment options coming to market, with a record equalling 30 new regulatory approvals in 2015, are having a profound impact on some patients’ chances of surviving cancer. The nature of these products though, working across multiple tumour types and across many stages of the disease, is bringing more stakeholders into the treatment decision making process.  

Although having more perspectives can be beneficial in making appropriate decisions, it can cause certain challenges. Firstly, the patient’s voice in defining the treatment decision may be lost as stakeholders may be contributing to this decision who have never met the patient before. Also, these stakeholders often have conflicting objectives and demands, meaning that after decisions are made, the patient is unclear over who is taking ‘ownership’ of their treatment.

Delivering for patients: the opportunity for pharma

At Clear, we believe there are three areas pharma companies need to focus on in order to deliver better patient outcomes within cancer care and succeed with their brands.


  • Bring the patient back to the centre
    • Gain real patient insight throughout the development process of the product and use this to inform improvements to the patient’s overall experience from clinical trial to support post-prescription
  • Bring clarity to complex markets
    • Clearly articulate the brand’s value within and across different tumour types, indications and customer types
    • Differentiate as monotherapy whilst setting up to support potential future combination use
  • Take an empathetic approach to highlight value to multiple stakeholders
    • Ground strategic decision making across stakeholders in an empathetic understanding of the patient in order to highlight value consistently from patients, to physicians and payers

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